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Community Food Systems Minor

Engaging with local food systems to build a more just, equitable future

The Minor in Community Food Systems (CFS) at Cornell engages undergraduate students with issues related to food security, food sovereignty, and food justice. The CFS Minor integrates interdisciplinary course work with community-based learning and research opportunities that together help students contribute to more sustainable and equitable food systems.  

About the minor

This academic program takes an interdisciplinary and engaged approach to learning about the social and ecological dimensions of diverse food systems. The Minor allows students to enhance their coursework in food studies with practicums that provide professional work experience with community partner organizations. Students collaborate on final projects with their peers in the program. 

Program overview

Students will take a mix of core and elective courses and also participate in a required practicum learning experience. The core courses ensure all CFS minor students are trained in some foundational concepts and core questions related to sustainable, equitable food systems, and elective courses allow students to examine additional dimensions. The practicums offer students chances to engage locally, nationally, and/or internationally in food-related projects in communities. 

There are three main “perspectives” in the minor: ethical + epistemic, ecological, and agricultural. The core courses also support the practicum endeavor: the pre-departure orientation course prepares students for their engaged work with organizations, while the CFS capstone guides students through critical reflection on their experiences. 

To satisfy the requirements for the Community Food Systems (CFS) Minor, students must complete a total of 5 courses for a minimum requirement of 16 credits*, AND a community-based practicum [***link to new practicum sub-page]. Students must take all courses for a letter grade and achieve a final grade of “C” or better. 

*all courses are expected to be 3 credits with the exception of the orientation to the practicum, which is a one-credit course. 

  • Introductory Course: DSOC 3400:  Agriculture, Food, Sustainability and Social Justice (offered annually)
  • Practicum pre-departure course: DSOC 4010: Community Food Systems Minor Practicum Orientation. (offered annually in the Spring semester) 
  • Capstone course post-practicum: DSOC 4400: CFS Capstone Course
  • Three Elective Courses, at least one from each category – Ethical/Epistemic, Ecological, Agricultural  

Ethical and epistemic perspectives courses consider how food systems knowledge is produced and distributed, and the ethical questions related to food systems. Examples of these courses include: 

  • AEM 3385: Social Entrepreneurship Practicum: Anabel's Grocery

  • AIIS/AMST/NTRES 3330: Ways of Knowing: Indigenous and Local Ecological Knowledge

  • AMST 4030/ASRC: Race and Social Entrepreneurship: Food Justice + Urban Reform 

  • ANSC 4140: Ethics and Animal Science

  • ANTHR 2450: The Anthropology of Food and Cuisine

  • BSOC 2061: Ethics and the Environment

  • DSOC 4312: Migration in the Americas: Engaged Research Methods and Practices

  • LAW 6647: Law and Policy of Food Systems

  • NTRES 3320: Introduction to Ethics and Environment

  • PHIL 1440: The Ethics of Eating

  • PLHRT 4270: The Role of the Garden in Community Food Security (**cannot count for both elective & practicum)

Ecological perspectives courses examine human-environment relationships that shape food systems and include courses such as: 

  • AEM 2500: Environmental and Resource Economics

  • AEM/ANSC/CHEME/FDSC 4880: Global Food, Energy, and Water Nexus: Engage the US, China and India for Sustainability

  • ANSC 1120: Sustainable Animal Husbandry

  • BEE 3299: Sustainable Development

  • BIOEE 3611: Field Ecology

  • BSOC/DSOC/NTRES 2201: Society and Natural Resources

  • CSS 3210: Soil Management for Sustainability

  • EEB 1610: Ecology and the Environment

  • HORT 2200: Practicing Sustainable Landcare

  • IARD/PLSCS 4140: Tropical Cropping Systems: Biodiversity, Social and Env. Impacts

  • PLHRT 4730: Ecology of Agricultural Systems 

Agricultural perspectives consider agri-food networks and today’s major issues for sustainable food production. These courses include:  

  • AEM/NS 4450: Toward a Sustainable Global Food System: Food Policy for Developing Countries
  • BIOEE/BSOC/STS 4690: Food, Agriculture, and Society
  • CSS/AGSCI/HORT 3800: Organic Food and Agriculture
  • CSS/IARD 4910: Food, Farming, and Personal Beliefs
  • CSS/PLSCS 1900: Sustainable Agriculture: Food, Farming, and the Future
  • DSOC/IARD 2020: Perspectives on International Agriculture and Rural Development
  • DSOC 3060: Farmworkers: Contemporary Issues
  • FDSC/IARD/NTRES 4800: Global Seminar: Building Sustainable Environments and Secure Food Systems for a Modern World
  • IARD/PLCBS 4030: Traditional Agriculture in Developing Nations
  • HORT 2400: Exploring the Small Farm Dream
  • PLHRT 3600: Climate Change and the Future of Food
  • PLSCS 3800: Principles and Practices in Certified Organic Agriculture

Elective courses that count towards the Minor are regularly updated to reflect the most current offerings. Coordinators for the CFS Minor can help individual students ensure they meet the elective requirements. 

The CFS Minor program is oriented towards engaged, experiential learning, and aims to provide students with each of the following:  

  • Deeper comprehension of food system dimensions, dynamics, and inequalities via course-work and engaged learning 
  • Opportunities to meet professional development goals through work experience with an organization 
  • Rich peer-learning and collaboration with a cohort of fellow CFS students 
  • Considerations of rural and urban, regional and international food system issues through both course teachings and through diverse practicum opportunities 
  • Connections with other community-engagement projects within and outside of Cornell 

Students are advised to take the introductory course, DSOC 3400, before exploring possibilities for their practicum experience. Practicums are typically completed over summer break and require completion of the 6-week pre-departure course in the Spring semester. The CFS capstone course is taken in the Fall semester following the completion of the CFS practicum. Elective courses can be taken at any time. 

Students who intend to complete a minor in Community Food Systems are required to fill out this declaration of intent form. Any questions can be directed to the Community Food Systems Minor Coordinator, via email at: communityfoodsystems [at] cornell.edu.

Engage with community food systems through experiential learning

The practicum experience allows CFS Minor participants to “learn by doing” through engagement with small-scale, community-focused food system projects. This aspect of the CFS Minor is also a professional development opportunity. CFS students typically complete the practicum between June and August, for a 10-week period at 17 hours per week as a minimum. See more information below about previous community partner groups and possible practicum projects.

To be eligible to apply to participate in a community-based practicum students must be at least a sophomore and have completed the CFS Minor Introductory Course, DSoc 3400: Agriculture, Food, and Society.

  • October - December:  Practicum opportunities posted on CFS Website
  • December 31:  Applications due
  • January:  Practicum placements announced
  • Final 8 weeks of the Spring semester:  Required practicum orientation course (DSOC 4010) 
  • First week of June through second week of August: Duration of practicum 

The Community Food Systems minor is committed to partnering with community-based organizations leading food security, food sovereignty, and food justice initiatives in New York and around the world. As you consider your CFS practicum experience, get to know some of our partners. 

Careers in Community Food Systems

Students who have completed the CFS Minor have continued work in groups focused on social equity, including in NGOs, University-based extension services, government agencies, nonprofits, benefit corporations (“B-Corp”) and philanthropic organizations. 

A female student standing in front of a large penned farm animal

Nonprofit/NGO

  • Program director/coordinator/staff member 
  • Community  development professional 
  • Community  organizer/advocate 
  • Charitable foundation/land trust coordinator  

Government agencies 

  • Community development professional
  • City, state or federal agriculture representative
  • Policy maker
  • Food advocate for public sectors 

Business/marketing

  • Benefit Corporation (“B-Corp”) staff 
  • Worker-owned/cooperative business advocate 
  • Entrepreneur 
  • Fair trade advocate 
  • Food services manager 

Education

  • Extension associate
  • University-based educator 
  • K-12 curriculum development  
  • Farm educator 
  • Research associate

Minor Highlights

Alumni Spotlight

How Hannah Fuller ’19 is changing the food system game to put people first

Practicum Reflections

In the Field: Student Perspectives on Community Food Systems Engagement

Student Highlight 

Cornell’s food systems students detail experiences in book

Hannah Fuller stands in front of the Patagonia mountains
a man kneels in front of a sign that reads "giving garden"
a student signs a copy of a book